'Self-healing' house in Greece will dare to defy nature

April 2, 2007

A high-tech villa designed to resist earthquakes by ‘self-healing’ cracks in its own walls and monitoring vibrations through an intelligent sensor network will be built on a Greek mountainside.

The University of Leeds' NanoManufacturing Institute (NMI) will play a crucial role in the £9.5 million European Union-funded project by developing special walls for the house that contain nano polymer particles - these will turn into a liquid when squeezed under pressure, flow into the cracks, and then harden to form a solid material.

NMI chief executive Professor Terry Wilkins said: "What we’re trying to achieve here is very exciting; we’re looking to use polymers in much tougher situations than ever before on a larger scale."

Nanotechnology involves making things with useful scientific properties on a tiny scale - less than one-hundred thousandth the width of a human hair.

The house walls will be built from novel load bearing steel frames and high-strength gypsum board. But they will be unique for another reason too - they’ll contain wireless, battery-less sensors and Leeds-designed radio frequency identity tags that collect vast amounts of data about the building over time, such as any stresses and vibrations, temperature, humidity and gas levels.

"If there are any problems, the intelligent sensor network will alert residents straightaway so they have time to escape," added Professor Wilkins.

The Leeds team also includes Dr Roger Gregory, chairman of University spinout company Instrumentel Ltd, who said: "Leeds are world leaders in designing wireless networks for extreme environments and hard-to-access places. Even if the building totally collapsed, the sensors would still let you pinpoint the source of the fault."

Instrumentel will work in partnership with Dr Greg Horler in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering to deliver this potentially life-saving technology.

Meanwhile, Professor Anne Neville’s team in the School of Mechanical Engineering will research new ways of designing the polymer nano-particles required.

Professor Wilkins said: "Once we have the optimum design, we could quickly start producing thousands of litres of nanoparticle fluid, adding just a tiny percentage to the gypsum mix."

Source: University of Leeds

Explore further: Many feared dead as second quake hits devastated Nepal

Related Stories

Many feared dead as second quake hits devastated Nepal

May 13, 2015

The second earthquake to hit Nepal in less than a month caught local disaster relief agencies unaware and, despite being six times weaker than the massive quake on April 25, it is still thought to have caused hundreds of ...

Grouse moor burning causes widespread environmental changes

September 30, 2014

Evidence of the environmental effects of moorland burning is published today in the first authoritative scientific study on the subject, with the aim of relieving tensions on both sides of the grouse moor management debate.

Wind map shows untapped energy potential in cities

April 24, 2013

Putting a wind turbine on your suburban home may leave you disappointed but there is a large untapped wind energy potential in UK cities, say scientists. A new study has mapped the wind energy potential of five city regions, ...

Recommended for you

Netherlands bank customers can get vocal on payments

August 1, 2015

Are some people fed up with remembering and using passwords and PINs to make it though the day? Those who have had enough would prefer to do without them. For mobile tasks that involve banking, though, it is obvious that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.